While wandering through nature, we all take in our surroundings using our senses. We smell flowers, touch tree bark, listen to bird calls, see details (like an ant trail on a tree), and even taste some of the natural objects we come across (think berries or edible flowers). And while investigating nature in this way comes naturally to most children, sometimes we parents forget to allow our children the time and space they need to do it. Never fear, Hike it Baby is here! This month, we are sharing five different ways to explore each of the five senses with your children! So get outside as a family, slow down, and explore nature with your senses together!
Exploring Nature through Sight
Did you know that just being able to see nature or green spaces, even from the comfort of your own home, has been shown to improve self-esteem, overall happiness, and even life satisfaction? It’s true! (read the details in this National Center for Biotechnology Information article) This fun sight fact is important because the majority of people rely on their eyesight in new and familiar situations. This means that as you explore your local green space, you are helping to improve your mental health. But, imagine how much better you will feel if you really focus on what you are seeing. Even those of us who spend a good amount of time in nature, often forget to slow down and really take in what we see around us. So use those eyes and focus on the details you can see in nature!
Here are five ways you can slow down and really experience sight in nature together:
- Rainbow walk. As you meander through your neighborhood or a favorite trail, be on the lookout for each color of the rainbow. For younger kids, simply asking them to point out each color is perfect. For older kids, ask them to look for the colors in order. And if you have permission, you can also collect items of each color and make your own nature rainbow.
- Scavenger hunt. Create a list of nature items you want to find on your outdoor adventures or use this Hike it Baby 30 Things to Find at a Park scavenger hunt and head on outside with your kids. Can you find each one on your list?
- Sit and use owl eyes. Often we explore nature while we are walking and while we take in a lot through our eyes this way, slowing down (or sitting still) will enable you to take in so much more. Find a comfortable spot and sit for 1-5 minutes together. This can be on a trail or in your own yard. Use your owl eyes (owls can see really well) and point out all the things you see. The bee buzzing around near a puddle, an ant crawling across a rock, a bird fluttering in a nearby bush, or the way the clouds are moving. Take it in, talk about it, and keep on adventuring.
- Look deeper. For many of us, we walk right on by things we see every day. We walk right by the same tree or flower bed all the time and miss so much. For this activity, pick one thing you see often and spend 1-5 minutes looking at that piece of nature. For instance, if you spend your time looking at a tree you walk past all the time you may notice an ant line, lichen or moss, the root or bark pattern, a bird’s nest, the way the branches grew, and so much more.
- Play I-Spy. This well-known game is absolutely perfect for using your sight to explore the world around you! There are a couple different ways to play this with your family. You can use colors or you can use descriptive words for the items you spy. This game really gets everyone looking more closely at the world around them, especially when your kids are older and everyone is trying to stump each other. You can also use those eyes to try a nature or Earth Day themed I-Spy activity sheet!
How are you looking at nature this week?
ABOUT HIKE IT BABY
Hike it Baby is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to creating opportunities and removing barriers to access so families with babies and young children can take their first steps outside. With more than 300 communities across North America, they firmly believe all families have the right to connect with nature, benefit from spending time outdoors, and be inspired to a lifelong love of nature. To learn more, visit HikeitBaby.com, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and Instagram. To support their mission and further their programming aimed at supporting families, donate here.